With influences from all over the world, Caribbean dishes are always packed with flavor. And thanks to the natural ingredients of the region, like scotch bonnet peppers and sweet potatoes, they usually pack a bit more heat than dishes from nearby islands like Puerto Rico and Cuba. But it's not just the spices that make Caribbean cuisine so special. Centuries of colonization have left their mark on the development of these flavors. For example, the Spanish brought escovitch fish – a fried and spiced fish dish – to the region in the 16th century. Meanwhile, British rule from the 17th through 19th centuries introduced Caribbeans to cuisines from West Africa, China, and India including jerk sauce, a prevalence of rice, and the inclusion of roti (a whole wheat flatbread). The result is a variety of dishes such as jerk chicken, oxtail beef, lamb curry, coconut curry tofu and more that celebrates the history of the many different cultures who have lived in the region. Looking to add some spice to your next event? Then look no further than the flavor-packed cuisine of the Caribbean!
A Caribbean/Jamaican buffet can be a messy affair! It’s rare that you’ll find entrees like jerk chicken, curry chicken or oxtail beef without bones in them so be sure to request plenty of napkins and be ready to get your hands a little dirty! And remember, not every restaurant is going to make their signature dishes exactly the same even if they have the same name. For example, one restaurant’s jerk chicken might be prepared with a dry rub while another is prepared with a lot of sauce so that it is almost more of a stew!
Unlike dishes from Cuba, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, Caribbean and Jamaican cuisine really highlights spicy flavors in their dishes. To help mitigate the spice, entrees are often paired with rice, vegetables and roti but it is important to make sure that your guests will be okay with at least some level of spice in their food.
When ordering catering for a buffet-style meal, it is best to order more food than the number of people in your party. This is because those at the front of the line tend to take more food than they realize, leaving less for others further back. To avoid this issue, we recommend ordering 10-15% more food than the number of guests you have or taking advantage of the "extra protein" option when available.
What goes well with a Caribbean / Jamaican Buffet?
The most popular sides are plantains, steamed vegetables, mac and cheese, and rice and peas. But keep in mind that in most cases, "peas" refers to red kidney beans, not what most of us think of as peas!
Are there gluten-free options for Caribbean/Jamaican Buffets?
If you're hosting guests with gluten sensitivities, don't worry – there are plenty of delicious options for them to choose from. Many restaurants have added gluten-free items to their menus, so it's easy to find something everyone can enjoy. Just look for the (GF) next to any menu item that's been certified as gluten-free.
Are there vegan and vegetarian options for Caribbean/Jamaican Buffets?
If you have vegan or vegetarian guests worried about finding food options, don't fret! Many restaurants have added vegan and vegetarian items to their menus such as jerk tofu. To know if a dish is vegan or vegetarian, look for the (V) or (VG) next to the menu item.
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